I can say that I become an anarchist much earlier than I realize it :) Just like David Graeber wrote: „At their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions. The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how. The second is that power corrupts. Most of all, anarchism is just a matter of having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them through to their logical conclusions. Odd though this may seem, in most important ways you are probably already an anarchist — you just don’t realize it.”
The first assumption that we are „reasonable and decent as we are allowed to be” is shared with all left ideologies. You can not be a socialist or communist if you consider people as „inherently evil”. Left believe that this is culture, not nature, that cause bed social practices or crimes, that’s why an education is so important for them. But there is one difference between left and anarchist. Anarchist believe that autonomously people can act effective for the common good. Left people see the need of strong leadership, so they accept this kind of violence that comes from hierarchical structure. It can be state power but also any type of organization where there is a group of people whose leadership does not come from a really democratic procedure and whose are not evaluated by those who are at the lower levels of the structure.
Probably most of organization that we are in are exactly this non-democratic type. And we can recognize a lot of (our own or our colleagues) practices that are aimed in changing this unfavorable power relations – directly or indirectly. Those are resistance actions. So we are trying to convince others to our point of view, we are trying to change the structure, we ignore commands, we do what we consider as a proper without regarding bans, we stop care, we cease to be involved in what we do, we start to play the solitaire instead to work. What and how long we are doing it depends on our temperament, upbringing, values, involvement in other matters, willingness to take a risk, assertiveness, the need to persevere in that organization for any reason (for example financial). I’m in this moment of my life that I’m willing to accept permanently „limitations and exceptions” of my autonomy done by others only if it is serious danger that my decisions would seriously hurt someone’s interest.
I believe that if someone proved that is trustworthy should have broad autonomy. As Graeber wrote: „Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to”. But a lot of people are sure that they can make people to do what they want from them only by using some kind of force. This is a problem „which came first, chicken or the egg” type. It seems that there is no answer but if you think outside the box, you realize that the egg was first, because reptiles laid eggs long before chickens appeared ;) This is how Graeber explain this seeming paradox: „If people are used to being treated like their opinions do not matter, they are likely to become angry and cynical, even violent — which of course makes it easy for those in power to say that their opinions do not matter. Once they understand that their opinions really do matter just as much as anyone else’s, they tend to become remarkably understanding. To cut a long story short: anarchists believe that for the most part it is power itself, and the effects of power, that make people stupid and irresponsible.” I would rather not call people stupid, but generally he made a point.
My own way to anarchism was by reflection over corrupting nature of any power and the risk that arising from the acceptance of strong hierarchical structures. I saw it in my family story about decent people who at some point of their career accepted structural violence as a necessary measure to the noble purpose. Post-Shoa reflection is also about it („I just do my orders”said Adolf Eichmann). The last element was my parenting experience which I from the beginning contextualize in power subject. As a parent one have huge power over own kid, emotional as well as a physical, and it’s very tempted to ab-use it. For me this was a moment that I deeply understood what an anarchism is all about, but other people had their own way of course. Please, take your test and find out, maybe you are an anarchist too. If so, let me know :)